The internal IT service portal of the If Insurance Group has approximately 8,000 users. The new solution improves usability, automates operations and facilitates data access.

In late 2013, If decided to set up a new service portal to improve end-user access to IT services. The project was carried out as part of a broader effort to restore the service desk under the control of If’s own organisation. The aim was to ensure that all IT knowledge would be readily accessible in one place. In future, this will increase the possibilities for self-service.

“While setting up the system, we wanted to create a modern service desk, provide better service for the users and cater for user needs as far as possible,” explains If’s Senior Project Manager Risto Malmivirta.

A modern application offering more extensive services was needed for the portal platform. A decision was soon made to use the Office 365 cloud service. Affecto was chosen to assist in the change process in early 2014.

“Key factors affecting the selection of the partner were skill level and local presence. Affecto is located close to us so their people can work in close cooperation with us in our Turku office.”

Deployment

The project was divided into three phases, two of which were implemented in the summer and autumn of 2014 and the third scheduled for completion in the summer of 2015.

In the first phase, tests were carried out to determine which operations Office can be used for and which user wishes can be addressed. The key issue was to create a standard environment that is easy to maintain.

If has previous experience of solutions based on workgroup software while Affecto had Office 365 skills to share in the project.

“Affecto’s role was to tell us about the possibilities and ways of implementing different things on the cloud platform. ”

By testing, developing and iterating various solutions, the best paths forward and implementation methods were discovered. During spring 2014, a suitable model of operation was found and the first production version was launched on schedule in June 2014.

“With this version, we were able to verify the potential of Office 365. At this point in the service desk project, we focussed on disseminating information on problems and changes.”

Immediately after the completion of the first phase, development began for the second phase which focussed on usability. The work was largely based on the feedback received from the users of the new system.

“The high availability of the service desk – using it on mobile devices – was an essential objective for the second phase. This was high on the users’ wish list.”

The second phase was deployed as scheduled in early October in 2014.

Benefits

The project budget was not exceeded, schedules were met and goals achieved almost as planned. Close cooperation between Affecto’s experts and If, attention to user feedback and agile implementation led to success.

“Gradual development through small steps has been a good thing. We could not start with too detailed plans, as they were not possible in a project like this considering the constant influx of new elements and the evolving needs of
a large number of users.”

At this point, a new platform had been created to provide for new ways of disseminating information, creating new content and improving service desk operations. End users see a combination of services that work well together and offer information in one place.

“We know what users want and now we have a working platform to develop services on. This is a good basis to advance to the next phase.”

In the third phase of the project, we will focus on producing content for the portal and providing users with more opportunities for self-service. At the same time, we will build a channel from the portal to the service desk’s support organisation.

The Office 365 cloud platform has been well received by If. The experience gained from the project can be put to good use in other similar Group projects as well.

“Adopting new technologies is not possible without doing exercises, learning and succeeding. The Office 365 portal project carried out together with Affecto has been a good experience for us and provides a solid foundation on which to move forward,” concludes Malmivirta.